Local News

Roanoke Rapids to recoup some of losses in theater project

Posted October 16, 2012
Updated October 17, 2012

— The city of Roanoke Rapids is expected to make about $80,000 per year in gaming licenses and another $150,000 in rent revenue as a result of a new two-year leasing deal involving what used to be the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

City leaders approved a lease-to-purchase deal in August to lease the 1,500-seat entertainment complex to Arkansas-based HSV Entertainment, which renamed the venue Royal Palace Theatre.

If HSV decides to purchase the theater when the contract expires, the city will sell it for $7.25 million.

The theater now includes 24-hour electronic gambling and has 200 machines, which the theater's manager, Kaine Riggan, calls a supplemental form of income.

Riggan said it also serves as a way to advertise for upcoming shows.

In addition to revenue from gaming licenses and rent, the city will also get $3 for every ticket sold.

It's too early to determine how much revenue will be brought in through concert sales, but in the first few shows since the company has taken over, Riggans said, there have been more than 800 people attending shows on the average.

"It's been my goal all along not to shut it down and board it up," Roanoke Rapids Mayor Emery Doughtie said Thursday. "I'm very well pleased with what HSV Entertainment has brought to Roanoke Rapids and the surrounding area."

The city still has about $17.5 million of a $21.5 million loan that it took out in 2005 to build the theater along Interstate 95 in an effort to attract tourists and help boost the economy.

But with a combination of low ticket sales, management and name changes and attempts to sell the facility, the city never generated enough money to pay off its loan.

That forced city leaders to increase the local sales tax rate in 2008.

Prior to HSV, the city had been using the theater as a reception hall.

HSV executives believe their business model can and will work.

"We want to make sure that everybody that walks through those front doors knows exactly what we have going on here, and we want them to buy a ticket," Riggan said.

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  • tequilasunrisemusic2 Oct 18, 12:11 p.m.

    The statement "Prior to HSV, the city had been using the theatre as a reception hall" is not true. There were several concerts including Aaron Tipping, David Mann (Meet the Browns), Lee Williams, The Tar River Swing Band, the NC Orchestra, Motown tribute, and Elvis impersonator to name a few. All of these within the last year.

  • jet2rdu Oct 17, 2:18 p.m.

    Indian tribes settled the Roanoke Rapids area before immigrants arrived in Halifax County. Their history is celebrated each year at the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe Pow Wow Festival in Hollister, North Carolina.

    Give the land to the tribe and let them open a 'Real Casino' and help create jobs in an area that is need of jobs and revenue.

    Not everyone wants to drive hours to western NC to visit the casino there.

  • lovelarvae Oct 17, 2:03 p.m.

    I still don't understand how they ever thought this was going to work. Somebody must have made one heck of a sales pitch.

  • Qwerty27807 Oct 17, 1:45 p.m.

    I'm telling ya, indoor flea markets are the only growth industry in that area. (Just a thought.)

  • Coolbreeze Oct 17, 1:12 p.m.

    HSV Entertainment is just another deal that won't last long...Taxpayers will eat this theater debt and its just a matter of time before HSV walks out...And the saga continues....

  • southerntalent Oct 17, 12:39 p.m.

    they also believed Randy Parton was a big name star

    HSV executives believe their business model can and will work.

    "We want to make sure that everybody that walks through those front doors knows exactly what we have going on here, and we want them to buy a ticket," Riggan said.

  • superman Oct 17, 10:21 a.m.

    Mr. Mayor please dont count your money before you have it in your pocket. As I recall several plans have already fallen thru for this property. It was a mistake from the beginning. Tax payers money should never have been used for this project. Turn it into a Walmart or Target. Paint it bright yellow and rename it "The Lemon Tree". Convert it to a homeless shelter. It would make an excellent church. People could gamble before and after services.

  • peppercorns Oct 16, 6:49 p.m.

    THere is nothing else around. There is nothing to do except gamble. It is too far out for the Raleigh and Wake Forest crowd to go. Instead of gambling, landscape the place and use it for wedding and such. A decent catering company and hotel company right nextdoor could make it a place for destination weddings.